Patient perspectives on adapting meaning-centered psychotherapy in advanced cancer for the Chinese immigrant population

  • Jennifer LengEmail author
  • Florence Lui
  • Xiaoxiao Huang
  • William Breitbart
  • Francesca Gany
Original Article


The Chinese immigrant community faces multiple obstacles to effective cancer support and psychosocial care post diagnosis. Meaning-centered psychotherapy (MCP) is an empirically based treatment (EBT) that has been found to significantly reduce psychological distress while increasing spiritual well-being and a sense of meaning and purpose in life in patients with advanced cancer. However, it has not yet been adapted for Chinese immigrants who have unique linguistic and cultural needs. This study presents a community needs assessment to inform the cultural adaptation of MCP for Chinese patients with advanced cancer using Bernal et al.’s ecological validity model and the cultural adaptation process model of Domenech-Rodriquez and Weiling. Interviews were conducted until saturation with 12 Chinese immigrants with advanced cancer to determine the community’s needs and preferences regarding the MCP intervention. Transcripts were translated and analyzed using Atlas.ti and six frequently occurring themes were identified: Coping; End of Life; Family; Culture, Religion, and Language; Immigration; and Specific Adaptations to MCP. Sociocultural values, beliefs, and practices such as filial piety and the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) should be considered when adapting EBTs for Chinese immigrant cancer patients.


Chinese immigrants Advanced cancer Psycho-oncology Meaning-centered psychotherapy Cultural adaptation Spiritual well-being 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health Research Project Grant Program (3R01CA128134-05S1) and the National Institutes of Health Small Grant Program (R03CA178124-01A1). The authors have full control of all primary data and agree to allow the journal to review the data if requested.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of MedicineMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Healthcare Policy and ResearchWeill Cornell Medical CollegeNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Clinical PsychologyThe City College of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA
  6. 6.Department of MedicineWeill Cornell Medical CollegeNew YorkUSA

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